Stormers face 'improved' Waratahs

    2018-02-22 19:59

    Gavin Rich -

    Sydney -  The Waratahs will be entering the Super Rugby season a week after the Stormers did but the touring team have managed to get in enough analysis to know they will be up against an improved team in Sydney.

    With the Stormers having already played one tough game against the Jaguares, you’d think that the Cape players would start Saturday’s game with a slight edge over their opponents. But Stormers forwards coach Russell Winter disagrees, pointing to the Waratahs’ pre-season preparation games as evidence to the contrary.

    “If we had to look at it as us perhaps having an edge because we have played one game already we’d be in trouble,” said Winter.

    “We have effectively only had two games of Super Rugby intensity ourselves. It was a nice hit-out against SWD at the start of the season, but when it comes to reaching Super Rugby intensity in a warm-up fixture, the Bulls game in Wellington was really our only game at that level. The Waratahs have had two Super Rugby intensity games as well, and they scored more than 40 points against the Rebels in their last one.

    “So they should be match ready and well prepared. I don’t think Saturday’s game will be one where we have an advantage. We have done analysis on the games they played in the warmup phase and they have also improved considerably since last year. They have Israel Folau at the back and Kurltey Beale is also back with them for the entire season, they are a good side with good balance.

    “We mustn’t forget they have won this competition before. They are throwing the ball around a bit more than they used to, which is a bit like us, and they have changed quite a bit over the past two season. It is always a nice challenge facing them in Sydney, and from our side it is good that at least our cobwebs are now out. It should be a good game.”

    Winter felt his field of expertise, the forwards, delivered a mixed bag against the Jaguares and he is expecting a considerable improvement over the entire 80 minutes in Sydney.

    “Yes and no,” was Winter’s answer to the question about whether he was happy.

    “There were moments in the game against the Jaguares where we let ourselves down. We had good lineouts, but not all of them were good. With the scrum it was the same thing. We were good early on, but then later we were found wanting. Yes we were a man down, but while we were comfortable early on, our scrumming became a real issue later on.”

    Winter singled out the often unsung hero in the Stormers pack, veteran loosehead JC Janse van Rensburg, for special mention.

    “I thought JC made a big difference later on in the game and played a big part in the scrum that we turned around to relieve the pressure,” said Winter.

    “Against the Waratahs we will be looking for a more consistent performance in the scrums across the 80 minutes, and also we will be looking for some more reward from our driving, particularly off the lineouts. It is early in the season so we should see a steady improvement in all the areas.”

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